Crime Watch

Kids being bullied via calls and text messages? There’s an app for that

 

Special to The Miami Herald

As you know, bullying and the prevention of it has become a major focus in our schools. But bullies are no longer limited to just verbal or physical bullying. Text bullying has become a serious problem among adolescents and teens.

Almost 9 out of 10 teens have a cell phone and about 1 in 5 will be victims of a text bully. About 1 in 10 teens engage in text bullying. Many of you have emailed me or called our office asking how you can control what happens with your child’s phone. So to make it easier for you I turned to one of our partners, Kelly Starling from AT&T for the types of apps that are available. Now there is a charge for some of these apps, but some are free but at least the below information gives you an idea as to what to ask for and how they work.

•  BullyBlock (Apple iOS, Android) This app captures and block bullies that are causing you and your family harm. The Bully Block app allows users to blocks bullies that utilize private or unknown numbers to engage in cyberbullying. Bully Block also has instant reporting features that allow the user to email or text abusive behavior to parents, teachers, and law enforcement. All audio, messages, and calls are stored on the phone memory card.

•  TipSubmitMobile (Apple iOS, Android) TipSubmit Mobile allows tipsters to submit secure and anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers, law enforcement agencies or school safety officers and administrators. Thousands of communities, schools and government agencies are covered by this application since it connects directly with TipSoft, an anonymous tip reporting system. Tipsters could receive rewards of up to $1,000 for information submitted to Crime Stoppers and nobody will know your identity.

•  Bully Stop (Android) This app helps protect your children from bully calls, texts and picture messages. The app gives your children the ability to block calls and messages from people they don’t want to hear from. Bully Stop uses a Block List to block unwanted callers and texters. The app maintains a password-protected call log of all attempted contact with your child so you can approach the relevant people, parents, teachers or police and show proof of the bullying communication.

Now here is a unique campaign to stop bullying: It’s called Pink Shirt Day, it’s an international event focused on stopping bullying, and it’s – coming up on Feb. 27, asking kids to wear something pink to school that day. This event started in Canada but it has rolled into the United States so I thought of sharing it with you. For more on the inspiring story of how Pink Shirt Day came about see http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2007/09/18/pink-tshirts-students.html

In closing I want to offer our condolences to the Hialeah Police Department and family of Joe Caragol Jr a detective who passed recently due to cancer. I have known Joe for many years and he truly was an exemplary person and he will be extremely missed.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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